Prior to now, did you have any experience in the fashion industry?
I’ve always had a flair for fashion but before I ventured into the fashion business, I attended a fashion school in Paris.
What was your biggest fear when starting?
Though we manufacture our products, I decided only to retail online. I wanted to create my niche in E-commerce which is still an emerging sector in Nigeria. However, one of the challenges would be whether customers would be willing to leave the traditional brick-and-mortal shopping for online shopping. To do this, I had to ensure the website was safe and secure and robust enough for an excellent customer experience. Luckily, with the advent of Covid-19, online shopping is rapidly becoming the norm.
The idea of workwear fashion isn’t what it used to be a couple of years back. How do you walk the line between being conservative and fashionable while retaining commercial appeal?
Conservatism is so stereotypical, and the greatest fallacy is that conservative cannot be fashionable. Nevertheless, NKIRUKA is more about being less provocative and more professional.
The data indicate a large market for our designs which our team keeps on improving upon, churning out new lines for every season. Indeed, there is a niche for every market.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
In the words of Maria Grazia Chiuri – Creative Director of Dior, “I think a dress has to be wearable. Otherwise, it’s a piece of art you can put on your wall.”
First, we want our designs to make women feel comfortable because fashion shouldn’t be torture. Then, we want them to feel respectable and not like a piece of commodity for sale in our garments. Finally, we want them to feel elegant like the queens they are. We consider all these as we develop our designs.
What is the e-commerce industry like? Are Nigerians comfortable with making purchases online?
Just like every business, there are challenges to overcome. However, when you identify those challenges and figure out a way to overcome them, you master the art of your trade. One major issue that Nigerians have with the e-commerce industry is trust. Customers want to be assured that they will indeed receive what they pay for, especially when it comes to quality. So, our website has a software that simulates the fabric composition, size, and height to perfectly represent how the garment would look on you. We also allow for returns if you are not satisfied with your order. So, for every peculiar challenge associated with shopping online, we have found a way to navigate it to remain in business. We are also partnering with Kuda Bank to provide a mini credit for working women to shop on our website.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media is an effective tool for building interactions between a brand and its customers to increase awareness and engagements. It enables a business to reach a larger audience and has the power to make a local brand become a global brand through its various channels of advertising. With this in mind, we’ve embraced social media because we believe it is an invaluable tool. We are present on Instagram as @shopnkiruka, on Facebook as @NKIRUKA and Twitter as @nkirukaonline.
You’re both the creative and the business head of your company. How do you balance your time between the two?
The key is to delegate responsibilities adequately. I work with a great team that buys into my vision, and I feel blessed to have such an incredible team.